Finding happiness is at the heart and soul of every living creature. All things want to be happy and content. In our modern world, it has been drilled into our heads that more money equals more happiness. We go to school, work hard, and do everything we can to land that coveted job that will ensure our financial futures. All our lives, we’ve been told that hard work is the key to success. We slave away 60, 70, 80+ hours a week so we prove to the powers that be, that we are hard-working worthy employees. The hope is that they recognize this and decide to promote us or pay us more money.
Many studies have been conducted on the issue and overall, psychologists have generally come to the same startling conclusion: “…wealth increases human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class but that it does little to increase happiness thereafter.” What this means is the guy pulling in $80,000 a year isn’t any less happy than the CEO raking in $10 million a year.
In a generic study, people are asked to rate their well-being and happiness on a scale of 1-7, with 1 meaning “not at all satisfied with my life” and 7 meaning “completely satisfied”. American multimillionaires responded with an average score of 5.8. Homeless people in a third-world city responded with an average of 2.9. Before you go ahead and assume money does in fact buy happiness, consider some other ratings. A rural, native population in Greenland who lead a life far removed from the luxuries of the modern world responded with a 5.8 rating. The Masai herding tribe of Kenya who live in dung huts with no running water or electricity also collectively rated themselves near a 5.8.
The average American works hard for 40-50 years, buys countless things they think will bring them happiness, then dies. Work, consume, die; it’s a depressing existence. We spend more time in our offices and commuting to and from work than we do with our families in many instances. We get up at the crack of dawn and come home when it’s dark, and we do it for that extra buck. Understanding that entering the next tax bracket, or being able to shop at Nieman Marcus over Macy’s isn’t going to do anything for your long-term happiness.
You should listen to Grandma when she tells you to value your friends and your health over money and materialistic possessions. The elderly have the advantage of looking back on their lives and seeing things at face value. We often brush their advice aside as we foolishly allow ourselves to be sucked back into the work, consume, die mentality. Maintaining good health, feeling confident when you look at yourself in the mirror, and maintaining positive social circles is key to happiness. Simply undertaking a training routine and diet plan will do wonders for you. Feeling confident about yourself when you slip back into that bikini will bring lasting happiness that can never be realized by simply purchasing some $800 designer dress.
If you still don’t believe that more money doesn’t equal more happiness, just take a look at all the suicidal corporate executives, depressed socialites, and discontent “upper class”. Don’t sacrifice your one life for that extra buck. Focus on your health, your friends, your family, and fellow mankind to realize true happiness and live a life that matters.